For the past two days we’ve been going back over three years worth of Pass Blocking Efficiency data, looking at what the offensive tackles and offensive guards have done. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the next installment is about centers and what the numbers say about them in pass protection.
The role of a center in pass protection is a little different to other linemen as they often find themselves assisting on a double team as opposed to being engaged one-on-one, but the results are no less noteworthy.
So let’s get to it.
As explained in the previous installments, to arrive at the PFF Pass Blocking Efficiency Signature Stat, you add sacks to three quarters the value of the total number of hits and hurries allowed, divide it by pass blocking snaps and then multiply by 100. You then subtract that number from 100 and the closer the final mark to 100 the better.
Following the formula above, we’ll start off this breakdown of Pass Blocking Efficiency by looking at which centers, over the past three years, have given up the most pressure … step forward Jonathan Goodwin. The former Saint and current 49er leads the way with 57 combined sacks, hits, and hurries allowed since 2009. That was one more than both Brad Meester and Dominic Raiola, though Raiola has found himself pass protecting more than any other center over that period. Also featuring in the Top 5 are Kyle Cook (fourth) and Todd McClure of the Falcons (fifth), while John Sullivan gave up more sacks (11) than any other center.
Rank Player Team Total Pressure
1 Jonathan Goodwin SF 57
2 Dominic Raiola DET 56
3 Brad Meester JAX 56
4 Kyle Cook CIN 52
5 Todd McClure ATL 51
6 Chris Myers HST 49
7 Lyle Sendlein ARZ 48
8 Jeff Faine FA 48
9 J.D. Walton DEN 48
10 Casey Wiegmann FA 47
Centers of Attention … for the Wrong Reasons
Total pressure numbers can often be misleading. Sure, Goodwin, Meester, and Raiola gave up the most pressure, but they also spent a larger portion of their time pass blocking. This is where the PBE formula demonstrates its value and adds a whole new level of context by taking into acount who was giving up the most pressure relative to the number of pass-protecting snaps. It makes horrible reading for J.D. Walton who gave up 48 pressures on 1,141 pass blocks, and David Baas won’t enjoy hearing that he’s got the second-lowest score of the 31 centers who have pass blocked more than 750 times since 2009. If you’re looking for a stat that tells you about pass blocking, you won’t get anything more accurate.
Walton and Baas aren’t the only players who wont enjoy these findings. Recently cut free agent Jeff Faine finished with the third-lowest score, while media darling, and apple of Pittsburgh Steelers fans eye, Maurkice Pouncey had the fourth-worst score, though it’s worth noting his pass blocking took a big step up in his second year. We still don’t see what all the fuss is about (he’s far from imposing as a run blocker either), but there are fewer negatives to his game now than when he entered the league. The final man in the Bottom 5 is Geoff Hangartner who has since moved to guard where he’s looked a lot more comfortable.
Rank Player Team Pass Protects Total Pressure PBE
1 J.D. Walton DEN 1141 48 96.71
2 David Baas NYG 926 36 96.95
3 Jeff Faine FA 1220 48 96.97
4 Maurkice Pouncey PIT 996 36 97.14
5 Geoff Hangartner CAR 943 33 97.22
6 Brad Meester JAX 1656 56 97.39
7 Eugene Amano TEN 981 32 97.43
8 Dan Koppen NE 1141 38 97.44
9 Samson Satele IND 1408 46 97.44
10 Jonathan Goodwin SF 1752 57 97.45
Centers of Attention … for the Right Reasons
If you flip the table you get a look at some centers to be proud of. The Packers are loathe to dabble in free agency, but did so this year and got themselves a center who is excellent when it comes to keeping the quarterback upright. That man, of course, is Jeff Saturday. The former Colt leads all centers in PBE, giving up just 27 combined sacks, hits, and hurries on 1,873 pass blocks. Former Packers center Scott Wells wasn’t much worse, finishing in sixth, though Rams fans may be a little surprised to see their former starting center Jason Brown up in fifth overall. The one-time marquee offseason signing has rarely let his team down in pass protection, but his inability to make a positive impact in the run game saw him benched and currently lingering in free agency. Credit also goes to Nick Mangold, Matt Birk and Nick Hardwick who earned spots in the Top 5.
Rank Player Team Pass Protects Total Pressure PBE
1 Jeff Saturday GB 1873 27 98.88
2 Nick Mangold NYJ 1474 23 98.74
3 Matt Birk BLT 1678 30 98.58
4 Nick Hardwick SD 1253 24 98.50
5 Jason Brown FA 1535 30 98.47
6 Scott Wells SL 1840 37 98.42
7 Olin Kreutz RET 1297 28 98.32
8 Andre Gurode FA 1226 28 98.23
9 Ryan Kalil CAR 1650 38 98.12
10 Alex Mack CLV 1657 40 98.08
Three days down, three installments of our pass blocking efficiency series in the bank. As ever, the PBE isn’t a be-all and end-all study about pass blocking. It doesn’t account for how quickly the pressure arrives, for example, but with that little disclaimer aside, tune in tomorrow when we turn our attention to running backs and tight ends.